Love a crusty baguette and wondering just how to get that same full flavour in any of your homemade breads?

Well the answer may surprise you – and you won’t even need any extra ingredients.

And not only no extra ingredients but also very little extra effort on your part.

Plus you can use this technique with pretty much any yeasted bread that you bake at home.

Read on to find out more.


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What does add flavour to your homemade bread?

One key ingredient that add flavour to your homemade bread is salt. However, this is not a suggestion to add more salt to your homemade bread.

In fact, in many cases, you can use a lower amount of salt than suggested in recipes and still produce a delicious loaf.

The Epsom Bakehouse baguettes baked in an online class

So what else can you do that adds flavour?

The answer is to give your dough time. Specifically to create a small part of your dough the night before you wish to bake bread.

This simple step is called a pre-ferment. The mixture may be called a poolish, biga, sponge, levain or various other names.

Whatever the name, the principle behind it remains the same – take some of the flour, water and a pinch of yeast from your recipe and mix it together.

Then the mixture is left to develop – either in the fridge or at a low room temperature – overnight.

The next morning, you add the remaining ingredients from your recipe and continue making your loaf.

And the result is a bread that is full of even more flavour.

Why does using a pre-ferment give your bread dough more flavour?

By leaving the mixture overnight, you give the yeast time to break down the starch in the flour to sugars and other compounds.

This process is known as fermentation and will add flavour to your final dough.

And completing this process at lower temperatures favours the production of compounds that give a fruity and pleasant aroma to the dough*.

All of which results in a final loaf that’s full of flavour.

How can you use pre-ferments in your homemade bread?

As mentioned, you can use this method with almost any yeasted bread you bake at home.

Simply take a small portion of the flour and water from your recipe, plus a pinch of yeast and mix these together the night before you wish to bake.

This could be, for example, 100g flour from a recipe using 500g flour, plus 100g water from the total amount of water in the recipe. Mix these with a pinch of yeast to make your pre-ferment.

Then place the mixture, well covered, in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, add the remaining ingredients and continue making the dough as per your recipe.

Use this simple two-step technique to introduce more flavour into your homemade breads. All without needing any further ingredients and requiring very little further effort from you.


*Anja N Birch et al, 2012.


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